Keep Americká Great hat. via Facebook

Vinohrady block party in Prague hopes to ‘Keep Americká Great’

The annual Americká Street Block Party heralds the end of summer
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The annual Americká Street Block Party is one of the last big events before cold weather starts to set in. This year it takes place September 14 from 11 am to 10 pm, and will again fill the entire street from Náměstí Míru to Machová Street.

Restaurants, bars and other businesses located on the street are joined by others from across the city, as well as NGOs trying to raise awareness. There will be four stages with music and stand-up comedy, seating to eat and hang out with friends, a wine zone, a pop-up design market, and places for children to become involved in activities. The main stages will be the Radio 1 stage at the intersection with Záhřebská Street and at Mexican stage the very end at Machová Street.

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Design pop-up group MINT Market, Mexican restaurant Las Adelitas, and the Prague 2 Town Hall are the sponsors of the event. The block party is part of the larger Zažít město jinak (Different City Experience) project, which tries to make the city more friendly. Zažít město jinak was started by the pro-bicycling group Auto*Mat.

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The largest single section, from Machová to Jana Masaryka and dedicated to Mexican food and culture, is called “La calle Mexicana.” The block party, by coincidence, falls just ahead of Mexican Independence Day. This section has its own stage, which will feature different groups including Mayan dancers from the Yucatan, mariachi music and a Mexican tenor. During the day there will be salsa lessons and piñatas. The street will be decorated with colorful banners and lights, which made for good selfies.

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La calle Mexicana section. via Raymond Johnston

The adjacent section up to the fountain at Záhřebská largely dedicated to Latin America in general, as interest has grown so much that not everyone can fit on the one block. The city didn’t allow for the Latin American events to spill over into adjacent streets, so it can get quite crowded.

The rest of the Americká Street up to náměstí Míru is a mix of Czech and international food, beverages, design items and other stands plus more stages for live music and comedy.

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Sections will dedicated to Balkan and Mediterranean food, as well as American-style barbecue.

Bulgarian groups will present a photo exhibit called From the Life of the Bulgarian Diaspora in Prague, and offer Bulgarian traditional cuisine, ingredients and spices, Bulgarian wines, jewelry, and publications.

The Municipal Library around the corner at Záhřebská 20 will be open from 11 am to 6 pm with special programs and quizzes, workshops and board games. Theater group D21 will put on several performances, mostly for kids and in Czech.

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americka street
Local musician performing on one of the stages. via Raymond Johnston

The block party is part of the larger Zažít město jinak (Different City Experience) project, which tries to make the city more friendly. “This is going on our seventh or eighth year. We had a pause for a year. One year got canceled, and for second year it was going to be canceled again so we moved it Lucemburská Street. And then we brought it back,” event co-organizer Fernando Larios said. The first block party was in 2011.

The cancellations were due to difficulties in getting a permit to use the street. Renovations of nearby streets meant that Americká was too crucial to crosstown traffic, even on a Saturday.

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When the event first returned to Americká Street in 2017, the organizers made special red hats with the slogan “Make Americká Great Again,” which was very similar to US President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan and merchandise.

“It caused a little bit of a controversy. We didn’t want to do anything political, we just like the slogan. We were very excited to be able to do it again after a couple of years. So this year it is ‘Keep Americká Great.’ So we are stealing something that is mainstream and adapting it to what is going on there. But it is nothing political. It is mostly a slogan that people see now,” Larios said.

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Original hat from 2017. via Raymond Johnston

The theme in general this year for all of the Zažít město jinak events is “City of Dreams” (Město snů). Most other Zažít město jinak take place Sept. 21.

Americká Street, as well as the other streets around náměstí Míru, gets its name from the countries and capitals that were victorious in World War I. Prior to 1926, Americká was called Krameriova Street after Czech revivalist and publisher Václav Matěj Kramerius.

For more information visit the Facebook event or Zažít město jinak website.

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